A fairly mild January lulled people across the UK into a false sense of security: just when we thought spring was in the air, Storm Ciara blasted the country on 8th February! With gusts of wind up to 97mph, torrential rain, hail showers, ice and widespread flooding, the storm wreaked havoc across the UK.
© Jim Peters / Shutterstock.com
In Cornwall, a series of lightning strikes left householders in Par and Penzance without phone connections. At around 1.30pm on 10th February, the force of the strikes burned out telephone and internet lines – thankfully, nobody was injured.
There was misery for commuters when a lightning strike put out a signalling system, leading to all trains between Plymouth and Penzance being suspended.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene of the domestic lightning strikes at Helleur Close in Par, where it is believed that lightning hit the TV aerial of one house – the force was so great that it affected numerous properties, spreading through their electric systems.
Flooding and gale-force winds
Elsewhere, there were reports of power cables and trees blowing down across Cornwall, causing travel problems. All crossings on the Torpoint Ferry were suspended, with “significant flooding” reported at Devonport.
After the height of the storm had passed, one ferry service was reinstated, despite the flooding continuing on the ferry lanes and beaches. Passengers were warned to be “extremely cautious” if they needed to use the service.
The A30 near Fraddon was also flooded, as was a stretch of the A390 at Tresillian Bridge, in both directions. Heavy traffic was queuing up near The Wheel Inn due to the flooding.
Storm Dennis on the way
Just when we thought it was safe to go out again, the Met Office warned Storm Dennis was on its way! It is due to strike on Saturday 15th February, bringing blizzard conditions and a potential threat to life.
Flood warnings have already been issued for Cornwall, where 140mm of rain is anticipated this weekend. The Met Office has issued a double weather warning for the region, including one for gales of up to 70mph.
Local people are warned to expect huge waves, more flooding and two days of travel disruption over this weekend. This comes only days after a high tide caused coastal flooding in Looe and Fowey, leading to many roads being impassable.
Are storms getting worse?
The worst storm in living history occurred in 1953 when the “storm of the century” was the worst peacetime disaster the UK had ever experienced. A heavy storm blew up in Holland and Belgium and travelled across the North Sea overnight on 31st January, hitting Britain on 1st February and causing the loss of 307 lives.
Waves flooded over the sea defences on the British coastline. There were no flood warnings in place due to the speed at which the storm struck, so coastal properties in England and Scotland suffered devastating flood damage.
Most of the phone lines were down, so people had no up-to-date information on the weather. More than 1,000 miles of coastline were flooded in the UK and Europe, where 32,000 people were evacuated as a result. In the UK, more than 160,000 acres of land was underwater.
The Environmental Defence Fund says there’s a link between global warming and the Earth’s changing weather patterns: there have been bigger storm surges and heavier snowfall in recent years. This is blamed on increased evaporation causing more moisture in the atmosphere, intensifying the amount of rainfall.
The rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, which caused widespread flooding in the US in 2017, was an estimated 15% more intense than it would have been without climate change caused by humans.
Sea levels are rising due to melting glaciers and ice sheets, leading to an increased risk of flooding. The sea level has risen by almost four inches since 1970 — driving more water inland during storm surges. More frequent Category 5 storms are also predicted in the 21st century.
Environmental campaigners say we need to act immediately on climate change, or we will see more extreme weather conditions in the near future.
Snug as a bug
It’s going to get very cold and very wet, folks, but if you must go out in the severe weather conditions, be prepared! MA Grigg’s range of high-quality, branded, winter clothing will keep you snug as a bug.
Pop into our St Austell store to see our wide range of warm waterproof coats and other garments, or visit our website.